Importance of Self-Care When Having ADHD

Self-care is vital to maintaining physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Lacking a solid self-care routine can put your overall wellness at risk. This is especially true for individuals coping with a chronic condition like attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

The beauty of self-care is that it does not have to be an elaborate process. Even the tiniest things, like brushing your teeth, making your bed, or learning to implement healthy communication, are self-care techniques that can reduce symptoms and help you manage your well-being.

What Is ADHD?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, ADHD is "marked by an ongoing pattern of inattention or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development." They indicate three categories of symptoms individuals with ADHD typically experience:

  • Inattention means someone finds it difficult to stay on task and organized or maintain focus, not because of "defiance or lack of comprehension." 
  • Hyperactivity is when an individual seems to move around at inappropriate times constantly. That may include excessive fidgeting or tapping. In adults, hyperactivity can manifest as restlessness or talking too much. 
  • Impulsivity means "a person may act without thinking or have difficulty with self-control." The NIMH defines impulsivity as the desire for "immediate rewards or the inability to delay gratification." Impulsivity can become disruptive or make someone make irrational decisions without considering potential long-term consequences. 

ADHD in Adults

Though common in children, many people struggle with ADHD well into adulthood. Unfortunately, many people are not diagnosed with ADHD until adulthood. Typically, adults diagnosed with ADHD experience symptoms before 12 years old. In some cases, symptoms may be misconstrued as stress, physical illnesses, or mental health conditions that share symptoms with ADHD. 

The NIMH also expresses that some adults are unaware they have ADHD. They may have trouble staying organized, sticking to a job, being punctual, and keeping up with day-to-day tasks and responsibilities and do not realize these struggles are due to ADHD. Without a diagnosis and appropriate care, life can become difficult. Many people experience ridicule from others who critique their actions.

For adults struggling with ADHD, know it is never too late to seek treatment. 

What Causes ADHD?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), "ADHD is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders of childhood." Despite ongoing research, the cause of ADHD remains unknown, though some scientists have varying theories. Some of those theories indicate that genetics plays a significant part in the presentation of this disorder. Other potential risk factors scientists are studying, according to the CDC, include: 

  • Brain injury 
  • Exposure to environmental risks 
  • Alcohol and tobacco use during pregnancy  
  • Premature delivery and low birth weight 

For many, the cause of a chronic condition becomes a moot point when they know they can not cure it. Instead, they focus on the available treatment options and how they can cope with symptoms effectively. 

ADHD Treatment

The types of treatment available for ADHD are similar to the therapies that often prove effective in treating substance use disorder (SUD). Such treatments include behavioral therapies and medications. Many find treatment most effective when it consists of the two. 

There are, however, other things individuals can do to help manage their symptoms. Some options offered by the NIMH include the following: 

  • Regular exercise, specifically when feeling hyperactive 
  • Eating healthy, nutritious meals 
  • Prioritizing enough quality sleep
  • Reducing screen time, especially around bedtime
  • Discovering creative ways to learn time management and organizational skills  
  • Having a support group of individuals, one can see regularly and do activities with 

While these are ways to cope with ADHD diagnosis alone, how can individuals struggling with ADHD and SUD manage these disorders simultaneously?

Managing ADHD in Recovery

Many people with SUD struggle with co-occurring disorders and require a dual diagnosis to manage their symptoms. Some people with ADHD may turn to substance use to quiet their minds. Unfortunately, such self-medication can turn into dependency. 

With ADHD, it can be challenging to organize one's thoughts and concentrate on recovery tasks. Creating a daily routine and having a good support network can help. 

Why Is Self-Care Important?

Self-care is vital because it can significantly reduce one's symptoms. If an individual does not focus on themself, symptoms often worsen and begin draining them physically and emotionally. The more exhausted they feel, the harder it can be to focus on already troublesome tasks at work, school, or everyday life. 

Additionally, self-care forces individuals to prioritize their needs. Chronic conditions can make people feel bad about themselves or affect their self-esteem. Self-care reminds people that they are not their conditions and that they have value. 

Practicing Self-Care With ADHD

As mentioned previously, self-care does not have to be lavish. Self-care techniques to cope with ADHD include: 

  • Having a healthy diet 
  • Getting enough quality sleep 
  • Reducing clutter in one's home 
  • Creating and following a daily schedule 
  • Limit distractions in a way that allows one to concentrate more on productivity 

Prioritizing self-care can improve the lives of those who struggle with ADHD and SUD simultaneously. This aspect of treatment and recovery is crucial for maintaining progress.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one of the most common disorders in children is attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). ADHD is a chronic condition characterized by continuous patterns of inattention or hyperactivity-impulsivity. These patterns interfere with functioning and development and typically begin in childhood and last into adulthood. Some individuals are not diagnosed with ADHD until adulthood, though most experience symptoms before 12 years old. Focusing on recovery tasks can be challenging for people struggling with substance use disorder (SUD). In addition to therapy and medication, self-care can help with these challenges as it forces you to prioritize your needs. Call NorthStar Transitions at (303) 558-6400 for treatment, especially if you struggle with ADHD and SUD.

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